Making a dram out of a cri­sis

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

The Outer He­brides’ first whisky fes­ti­val, On the Rocks, will be held on the Isle of Eriskay, scene of the true Whisky Ga­lore!, on mid­sum­mer weekend.

The SS Politi­cian wrecked on the rocks be­tween Eriskay and South Uist in 1941, risk­ing the loss of 250,000 bot­tles of whisky on board, which the war-ra­tioned is­landers were de­ter­mined to save from the waves – and the tax­man. The story in­spired Sir Comp­ton McKen­zie’s clas­sic novel Whisky Ga­lore!, and an Eal­ing com­edy set on Barra di­rected by Alexan­der MacK­endrick, re-made into a new film star­ring Gre­gor Fisher and Ed­die Iz­zard, which re­leased in Scot­land last Fri­day. The fes­ti­val will be hosted by the is­land’s vil­lage hall and local pub, Am Politi­cian, on June 2425, serv­ing Dun­can Tay­lor Scotch Whisky’s range of Whisky Ga­lore! malts and blends, topped up by Isle of Harris gin. The Isle of Harris Dis­tillery will also run mas­ter­classes, and in­tro­duce its ‘ new make spirit’, des­tined to ma­ture into the Isle of Harris Sin­gle Malt, called The Hear­ach. Its man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Si­mon Er­langer, said: ‘The dis­tillery was estab­lished to

sup­port the economies not only of Harris, but of all the Outer He­bridean is­lands. One day it would be mar­vel­lous to see the Outer He­brides recog­nised as a new whisky re­gion of Scot­land.’

The weekend will also fea­ture the Outer He­bridean premiere of

Whisky Ga­lore!, with Barra and Uist’s finest tra­di­tional mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing Gaelic singer Mairi MacInnes, who sings Gairm Na h-oid­hche (Call­ing the Night) on Whisky Ga­lore!.

Piper and whis­tle player Alana MacInnes joins fid­dler and singer Eilidh Shaw to lead the weekend’s Ho-ro- gheal­laidh ses­sions, while ceilidh band Sor­radale will tear up the dance floor on mid­sum­mer’s night. One of the most beau­ti­ful and ro­man­tic tra­di­tional songs was writ­ten in praise of the is­land, The Eriskay Love Lilt.

There will also be an ex­hi­bi­tion of arte­facts from the SS Politi­cian and ex­am­ples of Eriskay’s unique knit­ted jumpers used to iden­tify fish­er­men at sea, as well as read­ings of Fa­ther Al­lan Mac­Don­ald, the 19th-cen­tury Ro­man Catholic priest, poet and folk­lore col­lec­tor who lived on Eriskay.

Wel­com­ing Eriskay’s whisky fes­ti­val, VisitS­cot­land’s is­land man­ager Alan MacKen­zie said the new film has a strong link with the is­land’s his­tory and cul­ture. ‘Scot­land is rightly famed the world over for our tra­di­tional music, ceilidhs, songs, po­etry and sto­ry­telling, not for­get­ting our warm hos­pi­tal­ity,’ he said. ‘This fes­ti­val en­cap­su­lates what makes the Outer He­brides such a draw for vis­i­tors from all cor­ners of the globe.’

Eriskay is also famed for the beau­ti­ful jewel-like colours of the wa­ter, machair and sandy beaches, in­clud­ing Coil­leag a’Phri­onnsa (the Prince’s Cockle Strand), where Bon­nie Prince Char­lie took his first step onto Scot­tish soil to launch the 1745 Ja­co­bite Rebellion. Eriskay also boasts rich wildlife from corn­crakes and ot­ters, to their very own Eriskay ponies – there are only 400 of them left on the planet.

Euan Shand, chair­man of Dun­can Tay­lor Scotch Whisky, said: ‘I loved the orig­i­nal film and, over 30 years ago, wanted to cre­ate whiskies that would cel­e­brate the orig­i­nal Whisky

Ga­lore! story. The Eriskay mid­sum­mer fes­ti­val gives us a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate the re­make of the film in this stun­ning part of Scot­land.’

In the words of Para Handy in Neil Munro’s tales the Vi­tal Spark: ‘So pack up your clarsach and away let us go to the land of the Haderum Ho…’

Sent from Heaven: Gre­gor Fisher, who plays post­mas­ter Macroon in the 2016 re­make of Whisky Ga­lore!, finds a bot­tle of am­ber nec­tar washed ashore from the ship­wrecked SS Cab­i­net Min­is­ter.

Is­landers of the fic­tional He­bridean is­land of Tod­day strug­gle to save as many of the ship­wreck’s 26,000 cases of whisky as they can.

Men of Isle of Harris Dis­tillery wait­ing for their sin­gle malt to ma­ture.

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